Flight1 Salutes “Twelve Seconds That Changed the World”

The words quoted in the title are the perfect motto for the Wright Brothers National Memorial. One hundred ten years ago today, on a sandy, windswept field not far from the Atlantic Ocean, two brothers from Ohio achieved one of mankind’s greatest technological advances: powered flight. The events of December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina shaped the modern world in more ways than can be counted here. I was fortunate enough earlier this year to cross something off my bucket list – a visit to the Memorial. As a lifelong aviation geek – sorry, “enthusiast” doesn’t quite cover it – it was a profound experience.

The memorial is nicely done, with plenty of exhibits and markers showing the location and distance of each flight. There are replicas of the Wright Flyer, the experimental gliders that preceded it, and the brothers’ living quarters and workshop. Towering over it all is a huge monument befitting their exploits. But my favorite thing might be the outdoor life-size diorama/playground that captures the first moment of flight. Kids can see the various people who were present, what they were doing, and best of all, can climb on the Wright Flyer and get a pilot’s eye view.

 

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There was even a surprise visitor that day which turned heads all around the memorial – a Marine Corps Osprey tilt-rotor. The Marine aviators hovered for several minutes to pay their respects to the Wrights.

A copy of the telegram the brothers sent home to Dayton that day in 1903 sums up their magnificent accomplishment in a few modest words: “Success four flights Thursday morning…

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It was a special day in a special place and anyone who visits leaves with a greater appreciation for those two brave men and their flying machine. We at Flight1 salute the Wright Brothers and their determination, intelligence and courage in achieving “the conquest of the air.”

(Click here for an earlier post that explored what Flight1’s Courageous Fliers have in common with the Wrights and other aviation pioneers.)

– Post & Photos by Russell Goutierez